With such amazing terrain and scenery to be enjoyed on two wheels, South Africa is attracting a growing number of cycling tourists. Should you choose to take your bike with you, it’s crucial to be properly informed as to which airline is best at accommodating bike baggage to avoid additional fees.
Attempting to comprehend the different airline policies, restrictions and allowances when it comes to travelling with your bike, often requires wading through pages of jargon, vague definitions and, sometimes, even websites which send you around in circles and leave you none the wiser.
Thankfully, when it comes to choosing a safe and secure baggage option, SCICON Sports has got you covered, with a great range of bike bags and cases specifically designed with these regulations in mind.
To help guide you through the travel options for those seeking to explore South Africa on two wheels, we have assembled a summary of the main airlines and their bike policies, to help ensure you don’t incur any unexpected charges.
South African Airways
Sports equipment can travel free of charge, as long as the additional piece of baggage weighs no more than 23kg with a maximum dimension of 200cm. Equipment larger than 200cm will be accepted strictly as cargo and the relevant Cargo rates will apply.
South African Express
Passengers travelling individually or in groups will be permitted to include their sporting equipment in the free baggage allowance applicable to the class in which they will travel. The airline will not accept liability for damage to such articles if they are not suitably packed. Sporting equipment in excess of the applicable free baggage allowance of 20kg will be charged in accordance with the current baggage policy, please note more than 32kg per piece is not accepted as excess baggage. If exceeding 32kg, the piece must be checked in as air cargo at specified air cargo rates. It is also worth noting that baggage which is in excess of the checked baggage allowance shall be charged at 1.5% per kg of the highest SA normal direct adult one way economy class fare.
When handing in your bicycle to FlySafair you will be asked to sign a ‘Limited Release Tag’. This tag indemnifies FlySafair (Pty) Ltd from any costs arising from the loss or damage to any bicycles, packaging, or any other equipment included in the packaging. You will need to produce your copy of this tag when collecting your bike. When making your reservation, be sure to include special luggage onto your booking. One piece of Sports Equipment is charged at 285 Rand per flight, while checked luggage of 20kg for 155 Rand can be supplemented for a further 20kg at the airport for 250 Rand.
For those already having arrived in South Africa and eager to explore as much as possible, domestic airlines such as MANGO, offer further potential to discover the nation by bike. Ensure to book your bike prior to travel, through MANGO’s official call centre or on the MANGO website. All bicycles must be checked in at the relevant check-in counter on the same flight as you are booked on, as bicycles cannot be dropped off or accepted before the actual date and flight. The combined weight of the bicycle and the box must not exceed 32kg, or exceed 1.5m (one and a half metres) in width or 2m (two) metres in height/length. When packing the box, no additional items may be included within the container itself. A handling fee will be charged per bicycle per flight when travelling with MANGO, but does only accept bicycles for carriage under Limited Liability and will not be liable to you for any loss or damages.
One of South Africa’s internal airlines who has taken the time to clarify their policy clearly is Airlink, who confirm that individuals are permitted to include sporting equipment as part of their free baggage allowance; relevant to your class of travel. Like most, they will not accept liability if you do choose to fly with your bike and fail to pack it appropriately. It is best to get in touch before flying as a request for Special Service Requirement in respect of Sports Equipment might need to be agreed, dependent upon your specific flight. Internal flights often have greater restrictions on excess luggage too, so do your research before flying to ensure you are not carrying too much.
Another domestic operator, Kulula love all types of sports and encourage people to play all around the beautiful country of South Africa, so to get the most out of your flight, they have kindly explained their baggage policy with great clarity, so you can take all your gear along for the adventure. You are allowed to travel with one 20kg bag for free when flying with Kulula, though if you are travelling with sports equipment in addition to your free baggage allowance, they do recommend you purchase an extra bag online to cover your sports equipment. The maximum weight is 20kg, though if between 20kg and 32kg, a heavy bag fee will apply and the item accepted regardless of dimensions.
As the information above demonstrates, each carrier has their own policies and rules which you will need to be aware of before travelling. Here’s a simple checklist SCICON Sports suggests for those flying with their bike:
- Make sure you know the maximum weight and size restrictions before booking
- Check for any potential excess baggage fees
- Read up on liability of the airline in case of damage
- Book your bike onto the flight in the required time ahead of flying
- Purchase a bag or case which will protect your bike, such as SCICON’s Aerocomfort Road 3.0 TSA Bike Travel Bag
- If in doubt, call the airline before booking to confirm